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Thread: The Reformed Poetry-Hater Tells All

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    RESIDENT JEDI MASTER Stargazer's Avatar
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    The Reformed Poetry-Hater Tells All

    I despised poetry. Hated it. I begrudged every moment in my high school classes spent in the mind-numbing task of analyzing poetry. Tests on the subject matter all looked the same:

    2a. Identify the meter, stanza, and rhyme scheme of the following poem:


    Yada, yada, yada.

    I hated poetry so much that when a teacher informed us that we had to write our own poem, I rebelled. I refused on the grounds of artistic differences. I saw no art in it and wanted no part of writing one myself. This was a very unexpected turn of events for my poor A.P. English teacher. After much debate, she finally allowed me to do extra credit work to make up for my little mutiny.


    Then there was college. My inner wild child sprang forth and pushed my geekier side out of the way so that she could have a little fun. I barely went to class that first semester and when I did attend, was generally still hung over from the night before. By some strange quirk of fate, this unlikely environment was where I first discovered my love of poetry.


    Not all poetry, mind you. To this day, I still contend that most poetry SUCKS. However, hidden away behind all of the "hither"s and "wherefores", there are real works of beauty and grace. Of playfulness and love. Even of sex. This last, of course, is what first caught my eye.

    Sitting in class one day, I was listening to my professor drone on about poetic meter and scansion (or some such nonsense) and suddenly it hit me. The poem was about sex! I was amused and a little stunned. For once, a poem was about something that actually related to me and the issues that I was working through at the time.

    For a short while, I started obsessively reading though books of poetry. Not paying attention to the structure of the poem, but actually reading it for what it was. Poets didn't write poetry like a math equation. They wrote them out of a passion for something. Passion compelled them to put pen to paper. For a variety of reasons, but it was always driven by passion. I found that if I always sought out that passion, poetry become less confusing and cumbersome. In many cases, it became beautiful, thoughtful, or amusing.

    Anyway, in my trademark long-winded way, I'm coming around to a point. I was hoping that there might be one or two of you out there that are closet poetry-philes like myself. What are some of your favorites? Why? Not why a professor told you that you should like it. Tell us why YOU liked a poem. How it touched, angered or amused you. Why you never forgot it. Or, even a single line that might have stuck in your head.


    Seeing as how I might be the only one to ever post in this thread, I'll save my own favorites to share with you in my next post. I'm sure the thread won't be in danger of getting away from me before I get the chance.



    Incidentally, I know this is a book forum and talking about poetry isnt really discussion of books, per se. However, it would be discussing works of literature, so I'm hoping the mods see fit to let it stay.
    "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."- Yoda

    "I'll just see where Providence takes me and try to look like I got there confidently." - Craig Ferguson

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    Come Along, Pond phat32's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stargazer
    2a. Identify the meter, stanza, and rhyme scheme of the following poem:
    Right. Nothing in school brought me quaking to my knees quicker than having to "identify meter" in Lit tests. Absolute nightmare.

    I hated poetry so much that when a teacher informed us that we had to write our own poem, I rebelled.
    On the few occasions I had to write poetry for English classes, I'd write up a few passages about [whatever], break it up, add some funky punctuation and capitalization and call it "free verse."

    Seeing as how I might be the only one to ever post in this thread, I'll save my own favorites to share with you in my next post. I'm sure the thread won't be in danger of getting away from me before I get the chance.
    Well, you're wrong.

    You haven't been browsing "Yet Another List" more closely, Star. Dinahann and I had a fairly lively discussion about Eliot and Yeats.

    Two of my favorite poems: The Waste Land and The Second Coming, but then, Bosch is my favorite painter.
    "...Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things donít always soften the bad things, but...the bad things donít always spoil the good things." - The Doctor

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    Wonky snarkmistress Lucy's Avatar
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    Excellent idea for a thread, Star. I'm almost surprised we didn't already have a poetry thread.

    I'm like you, the idea in school of breaking poetry down into meter and verse very nearly turned me off it entirely. I think a poem is something to be taken as a whole, and when you start diagramming its lines you take away the flow and beauty of it, and everything that makes it work.

    I'm still particular about my poetry -- there's a lot I don't like. And I tend to like poems more for how they sound than what they say. So I love "Jabberwocky." I also tend to only remember certain lines of poems, such as one in which all I remember is "Terrence, this is stupid stuff."

    I'll throw out a favorite, though -- "My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke.

    More poems need to be available on the Internet. I know the Smithsonian, several years ago, was doing a project in which they taped people reading poetry all over the country -- I read one at our local library. I wonder whatever happened with that?

    I did find a site that has about 1,800 poems, or so it claims.
    http://www.poets.org/

    ETA: Not the Smithsonian, evidently, the Library of Congress and poet laureate. http://www.favoritepoem.org/theproject/index.html
    Last edited by Lucy; 08-11-2005 at 10:57 AM.
    It's such a fine line between stupid, and clever. -- David St. Hubbins

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    RESIDENT JEDI MASTER Stargazer's Avatar
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    I sometimes love poems for how they sound, too, Lucy. "Jabberwocky" and "Kubla Khan" are two that I feel that way about. Because who the hell knows what he was tryin to say in Kubla Khan?


    I like poems for a variety of reasons, so I like a variety of poems. "The Flea", by John Donne, is one that always makes me laugh.

    THE FLEA.
    by John Donne


    MARK but this flea, and mark in this,
    How little that which thou deniest me is ;
    It suck'd me first, and now sucks thee,
    And in this flea our two bloods mingled be.
    Thou know'st that this cannot be said
    A sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;
    Yet this enjoys before it woo,
    And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two ;
    And this, alas ! is more than we would do.

    O stay, three lives in one flea spare,
    Where we almost, yea, more than married are.
    This flea is you and I, and this
    Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is.
    Though parents grudge, and you, we're met,
    And cloister'd in these living walls of jet.
    Though use make you apt to kill me,
    Let not to that self-murder added be,
    And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

    Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
    Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
    Wherein could this flea guilty be,
    Except in that drop which it suck'd from thee?
    Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou
    Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
    'Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;
    Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,
    Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.


    Now, Im almost embarrassed to admit that another favorite came from a movie, but it did. I thought Robert Herrick's "To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time", had such a powerful message when I first heard it in Dead Poet's Society. And yes, some argue that he's only talking about marriage, but I don't care. I see what I want to see in it. I think its a beautiful message about making the most of the time we're given.

    TO THE VIRGINS, TO MAKE MUCH OF TIME.
    by Robert Herrick


    GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
    Old time is still a-flying :
    And this same flower that smiles to-day
    To-morrow will be dying.

    The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
    The higher he's a-getting,
    The sooner will his race be run,
    And nearer he's to setting.

    That age is best which is the first,
    When youth and blood are warmer ;
    But being spent, the worse, and worst
    Times still succeed the former.

    Then be not coy, but use your time,
    And while ye may go marry :
    For having lost but once your prime
    You may for ever tarry.
    "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."- Yoda

    "I'll just see where Providence takes me and try to look like I got there confidently." - Craig Ferguson

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    Come Along, Pond phat32's Avatar
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    A good friend of mine loves e.e. cummings and in our discussions about cummings, I've rediscovered how much I like these poems. So I've been re-reading my e.e. cummings.

    I also ran across this. I've seen parts of the poem referenced in other places, of course, but I've never read the whole thing until now. Since I like poems like Eliot's The Waste Land and Yeats' The Second Coming, the theme of this poem appeals to me, as well. It's Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley.

    I met a traveller from an antique land
    Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
    And on the pedestal these words appear --
    "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.'
    Lines 10-12 are especially powerful.
    "...Every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things donít always soften the bad things, but...the bad things donít always spoil the good things." - The Doctor

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    Who Dat lildago's Avatar
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    phat, somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond is my favorite by e.e. cummings.

    somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond
    any experience,your eyes have their silence:
    in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me,
    or which i cannot touch because they are too near

    your slightest look will easily unclose me
    though i have closed myself as fingers,
    you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens
    (touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose

    or if your wish be to close me, i and
    my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly,
    as when the heart of this flower imagines
    the snow carefully everywhere descending;
    nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals
    the power of your intense fragility:whose texture
    compels me with the color of its countries,
    rendering death and forever with each breathing

    (i do not know what it is about you that closes
    and opens;only something in me understands
    the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)
    nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands


    I don't know how I never saw this thread before now. Stargazer, I also despised poetry until college. In fact, I avoided it at all costs. I had one professor who was a Shakespeare fanatic and passionate about poetry. Her enthusiasm got me hooked and unleashed my inner geek. I'm a real sucker for Shakespeare's sonnets. So much so that my husband wrote a sonnet for me as a wedding gift. (He writes music and composed many poems for me when we were dating. Too bad those courtship perks don't last.) Anyway, sonnet 116 is my favorite.
    Last edited by lildago; 12-03-2005 at 11:16 PM.
    Getting lost will help you find yourself.

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    Livin' the life Dinahann's Avatar
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    Wow. I don't know why I haven't seen this thread. That was awesome of you to create it, Stargazer. I enjoyed John Donne's The Flea. I haven't read much of his work.

    I'm like Lucy - I like poems for the way they sound. The only way I can hear how they sound is to read them aloud, so I sometimes pick up my favorite book of poetry in my library (also known as my spare bedroom), sit down in my comfy armchair and read it aloud. Here's one I adore by Gerard Manley Hopkins. It's enchanting when read aloud.


    Spring and Fall: To a young child


    Margaret, are you grieving
    Over Goldengrove unleaving?
    Leaves, like the things of man, you
    With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
    Ah! as the heart grows older
    It will come to such sights colder
    By and by, nor spare a sigh
    Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
    And yet you will weep and know why.
    Now no matter, child, the name:
    Sorrow's springs are the same.
    Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
    What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
    It is the blight man was born for,
    It is Margaret you mourn for.


    Quote Originally Posted by phat32
    A good friend of mine loves e.e. cummings and in our discussions about cummings, I've rediscovered how much I like these poems. So I've been re-reading my e.e. cummings.
    e. e. cummings is my favorite poet. He has so many compelling works. Phat, what's your favorite?
    Well I was born in a small town
    And I can breathe in a small town
    Gonna die in this small town
    And that's prob'ly where they'll bury me

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    Nevermind Lotuslander's Avatar
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    There's a certain slant of light on winter afternoons
    That oppresses like Cathedral Tunes.

    I don't remember the rest of the poem, but this is my favorite.

    Emily Dickenson

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    Who Dat lildago's Avatar
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    Lotuslander, It's called There's a certain Slant of light.
    There's a certain Slant of light(258)
    by Emily Dickinson

    There's a certain Slant of light,
    Winter Afternoons--
    That oppresses, like the Heft
    Of Cathedral Tunes--

    Heavenly Hurt, it gives us--
    We can find no scar,
    But internal difference,
    Where the Meanings, are--

    None may teach it--Any--
    'Tis the Seal Despair--
    An imperial affliction
    Sent us of the air--

    When it comes, the Landscape listens--
    Shadows--hold their breath--
    When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
    On the look of Death--
    Getting lost will help you find yourself.

  10. #10
    RESIDENT JEDI MASTER Stargazer's Avatar
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    Wow, I thought this thread had died on the table. I'm loving the poems people are posting.
    "Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter."- Yoda

    "I'll just see where Providence takes me and try to look like I got there confidently." - Craig Ferguson

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